Breaking Barriers: English Education Diversity Class Welcomes The Steinhardt School of Education ☆
English Education’s Diversity class, taught by Professor Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz, recently welcomed special guests: 26 New York University Steinhardt School of Education undergraduates, along with their two professors, Dr. Suzanne Carothers (Director of the Undergraduate Childhood Program in Teaching & Learning at Steinhardt) and Ms. Susan Browne, (lead teacher at NYC’s Children’s Workshop school).
Sealey-Ruiz and Carothers co-designed this class, meant to engage the combined 56 students in a conversation about teaching practice and the topic of White Privilege. “It was a great opportunity to bring together students from two great teaching institutions to learn from one another,” Sealey-Ruiz explains, adding, “Dr. Carothers is an exceptional mentor, and for me, a model teacher educator.” As for the unusual mixture of undergrad and graduate students, “What better way to see beyond the barriers in the educational landscape than by starting with those same barriers that historically separate us—race, class, age and gender,” Carothers notes.
Eve Eure is an English and Education Ph.D. student and Diversity Class member. The class has been transformative for her—“I have a voice and an ability to express myself in a way that I wasn’t able to until I took this course”—though she was anxious about mixing with others who were outside the safe circle of a class that relies on a comfort with one another to talk openly and honestly about sensitive subjects. The alliance was a success, though, and it demonstrated to Eure the power of education: “There was so much possibility in these small moments of just being able to sit together and talk. The things we learn about race, identity and privilege extend beyond the classroom, and when we brought in students from another school, that solidified it for me.” Eure credits Sealey-Ruiz for fostering a sense of community in the class as well as the students themselves for their “willingness to trust and go along with her.” And at the end of the session, she recalls Carothers intoning “Let’s do something with what we just heard!”, sealing the hope Eure has that the conversation will “awaken something” in each future educator.
Carothers reveals, perhaps, the highest endorsement of the session’s impact: “One of the students said that kind of conversation that we had in class was the kind of conversation she usually has with her friends after class–never in class. She was struck by how people, including herself, spoke so honestly and thoughtfully.”